[Stop-traffic] News/UN: Mafia Makes Billions From Trafficking People

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/UN: Mafia Makes Billions From Trafficking People
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jan 19 2001 - 10:47:53 EST


                 UN: Mafia Makes Billions From Trafficking People

RTos 14/Dec/00 2:07 PM

Reuters Ltd.

     By Philip Pullella
      CATANIA, Sicily (Reuters) - Trafficking in people, taking women and
children into slavery and prostitution, is producing profits second only to
those from the drug trade for organized crime, a U.N. official said on
Thursday.
      Calling on governments to unite to combat the trafficking, Pino
Arlacchi, a U.N. under-secretary general, told a forum in Sicily that its
victims were exploited repeatedly.
      "It is painful to contemplate that, unlike illegal drugs, women and
children are often sold again and again. Their abuse and pain are
multiplied as the transactions increase," said Arlacchi, executive director
of United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
      "The trafficking in people is the fastest growing transnational
criminal activity...Never before has there been so much opportunity for
criminal organizations to exploit the system."
      Arlacchi, speaking in the city at the base of Mount Etna, said
traffickers of people realize annual profits of some $7 billion from the
global market in prostitution alone.
      According to a review of figures from governments and Non-Governmental
Organizations, between 700,000 and two million women and children are
victims of trafficking each year.
      London-based Anti-Slavery International estimates that more than 200
million people worldwide are now reduced to slavery, many of whom have been
trafficked across borders.

      BILLIONS IN PROFITS
      Arlacchi called trafficking of people "the biggest violation of human
rights in the world" and said that while profits to transnational crime
groups were still bigger in the illegal drug trade, the gap was narrowing.
      Much of trafficking of humans involves criminal groups who exploit
migrants who want to be smuggled into countries to begin new lives but are
then forced to work for them in order to pay back the cost of the voyage.
      According to U.N. documents, the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, has
maintained a significant presence in Southeast Asia, where Japanese
criminals have become a main organizing force in the sexual slavery of
women.
      Frank Loy, U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, said tens
of thousands of people each year were victims of traffickers in the United
States.
      "When there are people who are held in quasi-slavery in sweat shops in
California, in prostitution in Florida, in domestic service in New York
it's a crime that we want to address...and I think this convention will
help," Loy told Reuters in an interview.
      In Italy, criminals operate an extensive and elaborate ring that lures
Nigerian women into the country on the pretext of getting work. They are
then sold to pimps for about $12,000 each.
      "The girls are slaves. There is no other way to define it," said
Father Oreste Benzi, a priest who founded an organization to help women
leave forced prostitution and start new lives.
      "The pimps want to make a four-fold profit on their investment,
meaning the girls have to pay $48,000 before they are free. They are told
that if they flee or talk to the police, their families in Nigeria will be
killed," Benzi told Reuters.
      The forum was part of a four-day conference on the United Nations
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime taking place in Sicily.
      One of the protocols attached to the Convention involves a commitment
by the countries that sign it to work together to combat the problem.

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